My research group is developing novel material systems that mimic and exploit the dynamic physical mechanisms responsible for the targeted response in biological cells and tissues. We focus on behaviors occurring at the cell surface and focus on science that will facilitate drug delivery, sensor platforms, and devices that selectively capture targeted cells for analytics, cell-based therapies, or diagnostics.
In a first project, new hybrid membranes developed in the Santore lab can form the basis for diagnostic platforms to assess the activity of membrane-active species, to expedite the design and testing of membrane-active drugs. Additionally, biomimetic surfaces created in our lab transcend targeting via simple biomolecular recognition to achieve selective dynamic adhesion that discriminates cells or delivery packages on the basis of the spatial distribution of receptors or on physical features. These attributes are uniquely useful for economical cell capture and sorting, for instance for the capture of rare circulating tumor cells or for the harvesting and purification of targeted cell populations. These material systems may also find use as platforms for on-line (continuous throughput) sensors.
By incorporating polymer and phospholipids in hybrid bilayer membranes, we have created membrane systems which potentially support ion channels and other membrane proteins targeted by drugs. The hybrid membranes are more robust than entirely phospholipid membranes, increasing the lifetime and reducing the numbers of attempts needed in studies of membrane protein interactions. At the same time the hybrid membranes quantitatively resemble the thermodynamic and tension response of entirely phospholipid models. The new robust hybrid membrane can be used to assess factors beyond simple recognition, for instance the influence of mechanical stresses and curvatures that more closely resemble cellular response.
In a second project, abiotic surfaces (those without biomolecular targeting fragments) are being developed as active surfaces for selective cell capture and manipulation in-situ, in the presence of complex
Learn more at www.pse.umass.edu/~msantore/
- BS Carnegie Mellon University, 1985
- PhD Princeton University, 1989